“Alexa, what’s the weather tomorrow?” One of the many Alexa-based terms that you’re likely to hear in your friend’s and loved one’s home in 2018. The Amazon Echo Smart Speaker is appearing in more and more households across the country.
The device connects to the now famous Alexa cloud-based voice search service. The speaker connects to a number of household and internet-based items, such as Spotify for your music, your calendar for your schedule, or Amazon for your shopping!
What you might not be aware of, is that there are five different Amazon Echo models for you to choose from. Let’s take a brief look at your options.
Amazon Echo (2nd Generation)
The original Amazon Echo has now been updated and the second generation is now available. The new version can be bought in a few special looks, such as; charcoal, walnut, sandstone and heather grey. A fabric grill wraps around the new Echo, compared to the brushed aluminium of the Plus model.
The second generation device is smaller and wider than the original, which means it’s less likely to toppled over if you nudge it by mistake. The 2nd generation Amazon Echo has a 2.5” downward-firing woofer and 0.6” tweeter powered by Dolby.
It features the now iconic Light Ring, which surround the volume, microphone and action buttons on the top of the device. The shell is interchangeable on the Echo. If you change the decor in your living room you can buy a new shell for your Echo to match.
In their review, Tech Radar summarise the second generation device by saying: “The latest Amazon Echo (2nd generation) smart speaker is a refreshing update to the Amazon range. Its price is lower, the design more appealing and Alexa gets better with each passing month.”
Amazon Echo Dot
The Echo Dot is a much smaller version of the original, which contains plenty of the main features. This is the smallest and most affordable device within the Amazon Echo collection. At just 32mm tall the device is a full 20cm shorter than the original.
It features two additional sound control buttons, making up for the lack of a volume ring, as well as listen and mute buttons. The Dot also has the same light ring found on the standard Echo, which indicates when Alexa is listening to you through its seven-microphone array. Around the rear of the device is a micro USB port to provide power to the speaker, as well as a 3.5mm port to allow the Dot to connect to an external speaker.
The size of the Echo makes it perfect for just about any room in your home. With its built-in speaker, you can place Echo Dot in the bedroom and use it as a smart alarm clock that can also turn off your lights.
According to Tech Radar; “The Dot maintains the Echo’s exceptional ability to recognise your voice while giving you the option of improving upon its biggest flaw – the sound quality – with an additional external speaker handy.”
Amazon Echo Plus
The Amazon Echo Plus is classed as a premium Smart Speaker. The Amazon Echo Plus looks almost identical to the original Echo, but is obviously much taller – standing at 235mm tall and 84mm wide. You can choose to buy the device in white or black, as well as a shiny silver.
A dotted speaker grille wraps around its sides, reaching half-way up the speaker. The upper part is brushed aluminium, and the Echo Plus is capped off with a colour-changing light ring around its upper edge.
The Echo plus can hear your voice from several meters away, even if there’s ambient noise in the room – thanks to seven far-field microphones around the top of the device. The device has a built-in ZigBee smart home hub, which allows for simple and direct setup of compatible ZigBee lights, plugs and more from brands including Philips Hue, Hive and more.
In their review, Tech Radar say; “It’s a convenient one-stop solution for both audio, smart assistant functions and Internet of Things controls, with Alexa still going strong as the most feature-rich voice assistant.”
Amazon Echo Spot
The Amazon Echo Spot introduces video capabilities to the Smart Speaker range. Now, rather than simply hearing your answers from Alexa… you can see them! This means you can see the weather forecast, read and singalong to your favourite songs, and set your favourite photos as a background. You can even edit the screen so that it shows a clock face!!
The Echo Spot comes in a circular shape and is available in black or white. The screen means that can make calls to friends and family between supported Echo devices or the Alexa App, or make video calls to anyone with an Echo Spot, Echo Show or the Alexa App. Of course, you can also watch Amazon Prime on your device.
On the top of the screen there is space for a camera and on the top of the device as a whole there are three buttons – volume up, down and mute for the microphone. The screen itself measures in at 2.5 inches (480×480 pixels).
The speaker grill is located on the belly of the device, which means it isn’t really visible when looking directly at the Spot. The screen has night a mode, which will dim the brightness during the hours of your choice.
In their review, Tech Radar say: “The design is great – it’s available in black and white – and we can easily see the Spot being used in the bedroom, kitchen or even on a desk. In fact, you may want it in all of these places.”
Amazon Echo Show
The Amazon Echo Show is the bigger brother to the Spot. The Show features a seven inch touchscreen display and a five megapixel camera. This means that Alexa can show you the results to your questions, rather than simply telling you.
Having a screen also means that you can use this Amazon Echo to make video calls to friends and family who have the Alexa App installed on their phones, or to those who also own an Echo Show.
The Show features a front-facing speaker, located just below the screen, as well as eight microphones, beam-forming technology and noise cancellation. On the top of the device you will find volume up, volume down and a mic/camera off button, surrounded by an microphone. As with most Amazon Echo devices, the Show is available in black or white.
In their review, Tech Radar summarise: “The addition of the screen is unique, and helps separate the Show from the crowd. Like the 5MP camera, the Show hasn’t quite made the most of the touchscreen, but that can – and likely will – change down the road.”